The damage from this early season nor'easter is five times as bad as the devastation Connecticut experienced two months ago from Tropical Storm Irene, officials said this morning at a press conference in Hartford.
Power outages reached an historic high yesterday when they topped 830,000 -- surpassing Irene, the previous record holder, and Hurricane Gloria.
Utility officials and Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy said the main elements that have complicated recovery efforts is that several transmission lines were damaged and there are so many trees on roads, especially in the northern part of the state.
"Unlike Irene, we have transmission problems," Malloy said. "This has been an unbelievable storm causing unbelievable damage."
Like Irene, though, the damage is so widespread that utility crews are stretched thin.
Statewide, 201 line and 181 tree crews are working on repairs today, Connecticut Light & Power president Jeff Butler said during the morning press conference that Malloy held. An additional 92 line and 100 tree crews are expected later, Butler said.
"By the end of the day, we expect 550 crews," he said.
The United Illuminating Company has said it will have power back to the majority of its customers by the end of the day. It will then make its crews available to CL&P, which is estimating that customers can be without power for a week or more.
Additional transmission crews also are expected to be working across the state – mainly in the northwest and central parts. Officials said there were 18 transmission lines that have been damaged.
CL&P also has begun assigning a liasion to towns which have requested them, and providing information on where crews will be working – one of the lessons learned from Tropical Storm Irene, Butler said.
"We are reporting information as we receive it to our customers and towns," he said.
Officials said they believe the damage from this storm is five times that of Irene, particularly to transmission lines, which are considered crucial to the electrical infrastructure.
The governor also warned of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can occur for a number of reasons – such as bringing propane or cooking grills inside or improper use of generators. No deaths have occurred but carbon monoxide-related medical calls have been reported.
Malloy said those concerns are one of the reasons he is urging towns to make warming centers and shelters available to residents to deter them from creating dangerous conditions inside their homes.
"Carbon monoxide may be our biggest enemy at the moment," he said.